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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  October 7, 2009 12:00am-1:00am EDT

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40,000 more of our troops. is this something we should be doing, manning outposts in afghanistan, setting our american troops out there in distant areas to be targets for the rebels who want to overthrow their own government? democratic congressman ike skelton, chairman of the armed services committee met with president obama today to talk about it. he's going to be on "hardball." what's missing from the obama presidency? big question. how can the president turn his beautiful words into accomplishments? is it clear? is it a clear well-known purpose he wants to do in the white house? is it the ability to discern what can actually get done? these are big questions. is it having the right people to do it? does he have the right people? does he have the ability to discern what can get done? does he have a clear mission? we're going to get the breakdown, some of those questions about the white house. they're looming right now. also, catching up with david letterman who found a new target for his opening monologue last night. himself. >> don't kid yourself. things are still pretty bad. there's a possibility that i'll be the first talk show host impeached.
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so -- >> so will the late night comic be able to continue what he's always done? lampoon public figures caught in embarrassing situations? i think so, anyway. we've got two top media people here to talk about it. to talk about letterman's survival chances tonight. might the democrats be seeing a ray of sunshine in the garden state in latest polling in new jersey has the governor's race going the democrats' way. new numbers and perhaps new outlook in the politics fix. what kind of mad men advertises would hire levi johnston, yes, that levi johnston, to be their product's new poster boy? check out the "hardball" sideshow tonight. we'll show you the ad. i can't believe it, actually. let's start with afghanistan. the president's meeting with members of congress today. democratic congressman ike skelton of missouri. one of those in attendance at the white house. he's the chairman of the armed services committee. republican congressman duncan hunter of california is a member of the armed services committee as well. he served two tours in iraq and one in afghanistan. gentlemen, thank you for joining us.
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thank you, mr. hunter, for your service, sir. thank you. i do that because we ought to do that all the time. mr. skelton, old pal, this the question for you. why are we in afghanistan, when can we leave? >> well, we went into afghanistan, as you know, as a result of the 9/11 attacks. actually, that was the fifth attack on americans in 9/11. they started in 1993. we went in there, we dismantled the taliban government that supported the al qaeda terrorists, and, however, we didn't destroy them as we had hoped to. through the years, you will note, that we were diverted into iraq, which took our eye off the ball. if we had put all of our resources in to afghanistan and done our very best against al qaeda and against the taliban government, which we did topple, we would be far better off today. you'll recall that the president
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gave an excellent speech in march outlining strategy that we should have in afghanistan. so for all intents and purposes, we didn't have a real strategy until then and when we gave that speech, in my opinion, the real war started. he appointed general mcchrystal who has a strong background of special forces, special operations, and he asked him to give an assessment in the next 60 days which he did. that assessment, of course, is one that's dire and, frankly, very troublesome. the president's now faced with a situation where i'm sure that general mcchrystal will make if he hasn't already made recommendation for increased resources to fulfill the mission that should have been finished back in 2002. >> congressman hunter, we have a moral reason, i think most
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people would agree to go into afghanistan in '01. we had been attacked heavily. the bad guys were there. the ones who organized the attacks. cost us the lives of 3,000 innocent people. went in to get the people who did it, organized it and to punish those, let's be honest about it, who let them do it. what's our moral reason? give me a moral reason for why we're thinking of sending almost 21,000 more troops over there and the field commander is asking for another 40,000. we're to tell, the latest report. what's our moral reason for doubling down now in afghanistan? >> i don't think it's a moral reason. what i think we have to do is win. and if general mcchrystal -- >> no, what is the moral reason? you have to answer the question. what is our moral case for our right to be in that country, killing people we don't like, killing people who are trying to knock down their own government? what's our moral case now for being there? >> okay, chris, you're asking me about the morality of warfare -- >> no, going in there, now. >> the moral case is this. that we have islam ma fascists
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who want to kill americans. they're based out of afghanistan. they attacked us on 9/11 and prior to, as chairman skelton said. we went in there, took them out. we have to win this now. the moral obligation is we went in there, we started fighting, we dismantled al qaeda there and the taliban, and if the president's general is asking for more troops, we ought to listen to him. we don't make strategy here. we just help the troops win. and that's what we need to do. >> well, let me ask you about the moral question, mr. skelton. the question is -- and you're chairman of the committee and you do make strategy, because we have a co-equal branch that you represent. the question is, we had a moral case to go in there and punish the people who attacked us and knock them out of power. but today, are we fighting the people that attacked us on 9/11? are the taliban forces that are attacking us now the people that attacked us on 9/11? >> what will happen is, the taliban regains hold in either part or all of afghanistan, just bet your bottom dollar that as sure as god made little green apples, the al qaeda terrorists will go back in there and have a
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safe haven from which to plan, plot, and attack america and american interests, wherever they may be. and consequently, we have to finish the job. the job should have been finished back in 2002 and put the resources there that were put into iraq and sadly they were not. and now the war really begins as a result of president obama giving a strategy speech and hopefully he will listen to the recommendations of his commanders. >> i think, gentleman, let me ask you, congressman, i want to ask you, congressman duncan, that same question. because finish is a good word. i think most americans believe if we can get a job done over there, that will make us more secure, we should do it and come home. but the idea of finishing the job in afghanistan sounds almost contradictory to history. other countries that have gone in there have had a hard time changing afghanistan. can we change the country so taliban won't take over? can we do that and finish the job? >> that's the exact same thing
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people said about iraq. what's happening there now. we'll come home victoriously, men and women, job well done, thanks for your service, iraq is done. we've won over there. the exact same thing can happen to afghanistan. and i'll tell you, al qaeda in afghanistan, the exact same ones we fought in 2001, 2002, there are islmafascists, they want to destroy america. yes, those are the same people that are over there now. those are the same america-hating people who will blow us up for any reason whatsoever. those are the exact same ones we're fighting over there. that's why we have to win. and that's why we ought to follow general mcchrystal's counterinsurgency plan for afghanistan. he's the guy. he knows how to win. let's give him the resources to do it. let's leave afghanistan victoriously. i think that's the right thing to do. >> how many people in the islamic world do you think are like that, of the 1 billion people in the islamic world, where are these fascists that are rooting against us? what percentage do you think are out there that we would have to take on at some point? >> don't know what percentage there are. >> are there a lot of them?
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>> a large percentage of them are in pakistan or afghanistan, so that's where we're focusing at. >> they're not being supported by the people in saudi arabia? they're not being supported by the emirates? they're not getting their money from all over the arab world? i thought they were. >> mohave isn't part of this. iran is part of this. this is general hatred for the waste and a throwback to 15th century islamic fundamentalists. that's what this has all been about since september 11th, 2001. nothing's changed, chris. >> bottom line -- >> there are still some angry folks out there that have camels and will throw stones at us. >> let me ask you this. you first, congressman campbell, will we succeed in afghanistan to be able to come home at some point? >> i think so. i certainly think so and i think with a good strategy, with a good follow-through, with our allies, the nato allies that are there -- as a matter of fact, i just left a meeting with our
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british counterpart from parliament and the large majority of them express strong support for what we're going to do. >> okay. do you have the same confidence, congressman campbell, that -- i mean, congressman duncan hunter that we can come home after doing the job in afghanistan? that that can be done? >> absolutely. and ike skelton is a great leader for congress. with his help, with the president's leadership on this we can get afghanistan done. >> all right, thank you ike skelton and congressman duncan hunter. coming up, what's missing from the obama presidency? is he beginning to lose touch with the country? has he lost touch with the people right now? we're going to break down that with questions from experts on the white house.
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perhaps the in eks splexpli trip to denmark is that there is no difficulty foreign or domestic that cannot be melted by the sunshine of the obama persona but in the contest between the world and any president's charm, bet on the world. that brings us to the big question. a big question in my heart right now. nine months into his presidency, has barack obama made the transition from candidate to president, from talking to achievement and accomplishment?
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and is there a missing ingredient in the white house staff right now or in the white house thinking? dee dee myers was press secretary and head honcho for president bill clinton and still a close personal friend and andy card was chief of staff for president george w. bush. i want to make this completely positive. because i think it would be good for this president to get some things he doesn't seem to have right now, which is achievements. now, that's my view. and i don't think he's had them. so let's go with this, a couple of thoughts here. has -- i want to run three thoughts by you and let you take a few minutes to talk about all three of them. my hunch, he hasn't really laid before the american people a clear mission. in the campaign, he had a mission, i'm not george w. bush, i wouldn't have gone into iraq, and by the way, we need change in this country, and being an african-american, i can symbolize big change. right now, i'm not so sure. it seems like he's focused on health care. he doesn't connect so far with people with their economic problems, which are real. and he's given good speeches still. still giving great speeches. reagan came in and he had another advantage, reagan, besides everybody knew where he stood, discernment. the ability to decide not just what i want to do, but what i
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can do of the things i want to do. that's the second thing. i'm not sure he's made those decisions about health care and afghanistan. what can i really get done as opposed to what i would like to get done? and thirdly, does he have the right personnel? let me ask you all three of those questions. you're looking seriously, because this is damned serious, my friend. it is so serious. we have a presidency like a chicken breaking out of the egg. he's still coming out of that hatched egg. first question, do you have a clear sense, or do you believe he's presented a clear sense of the things that in his heart he really wants to get done and for whom as president? is it clear? >> i don't think that that's changed in two years. >> well, what is it? >> i think he came in, ran for president, and has governed in the first nine months of his presidency as someone who wants to make big, transformational changes. they are very hard. not only that, against that backdrop, the desire to do big things, was an economy, the worst economy since the great depression, and two wars. it's a complicated situation. but i think it's clear.
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he believes, unless we reform health care, ten years from now or eight years from now we'll be right back where we are with the economy in a deep and nasty recession. he's trying to do that. the question is, has he figured out what's possible? we're still working our way through that. and i do think presidents, it makes them more than a few months to make that transition from being a candidate to being president. nothing prepares you for being president like being president, something bill clinton and i think both george bushes have talked about in their private conversations. >> does he have the right people? >> i think he has the right people. i think he needs to have -- i don't think there's bad people around him, he has very good people around him -- >> does he have the people he needs? >> i think presidents need to make the circle bigger and that's true of them too. the circle is too small and i don't think they have enough -- >> too chicago? >> i don't know if it's too chicago, but you have to get bigger. and that's hard. it was a group that won a campaign by holding it close and controlling it very tightly. that's not possible once you become president. so the transition from small to big to bigger is hard.
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>> david's not there anymore, by the way. that hurts. andy card, you worked in the republican administration, but the same question applies. has this president got a clear mission? has he figured out how to get done what he can get done and does he have the people to do it? >> he may have a clear mission, but he has not described it to the american people. he said he wanted change. everyone who runs for president wants change. >> especially after your guy. i couldn't resist that. >> every campaign is about change, but he didn't give a definition to change, so he allowed the word change to be whatever anybody who heard it believed rather than what he believed. now he has to make the tough decisions as to what change is. and the american people are not reacting that well to it. and he hasn't described it very well. the second thing is, whether he likes it or not, he's a wartime president. there is a war going on. he hasn't talked about the need for us to succeed in our war against terror, succeed in afghanistan, and that is a critical concern right now, as we're recognizing that
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afghanistan is really hard and young men and women who are over there, are really fighting and sacrificing for us. and he has to describe to the american people why those sacrifices are so important and why it is the right thing to -- >> you don't think he seems like a war president, like a commander in chief, is what you're saying? >> i don't think he's sent a message at all to the american people. i don't think he recognizes the burden of being the president during a war. >> okay. how about the right people, just to finish off the questioning, does he have the right people? does he need more greasers like gurgen or people like that? >> he has very confident people, but he doesn't really have people that have an institutional respect for the presidency and the white house. and people who have peripheral vision. he's got a lot of people with outstanding tunnel vision, but he needs some people around him who have good peripheral vision. and also someone who says, you're the president of the united states, mr. president. and the institution of the presidency stands for a lot, recognize the foundation that you're standing on as you talk about -- >> the reason, i think, we're into this conversation, and i am a fan of this presidency, i want it to succeed.
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i'm not a dittohead, though. a couple things. i think he -- in terms of the health issue, which you raised, his approach seems to be, let 1,000 flowers bloom. let's see what -- oh, let's see what the ways and means committee comes up with, rangel's committee, let's see what baucus comes up with, let's see what -- and let's see how it works together and in some magical moment, i'll ride in like the cavalry and i'll settle it. that doesn't seem to be working. because you have ed schultz on this network pushing for the public option very hard. you have the netroots pushing very hard. you have people like nancy pelosi pushing. and yet you see in the senate, that's going to be a hard sell? when is he going to say, i'm not a cheerleader, i'm a quarterback? has he failed in the role of quarterback in saying, this is what's essential to me. this is what i believe we can get done with 60 votes. and by the way, we're going for 60, no more games on the 50. at least tell us what the strategy is and then do it. has he discerned what he can do as president and laid it out?
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has he done that? >> as you know, as somebody with experience on the hill, it is a dynamic process. i think in some ways, they did overlearn the lessons of the clinton health care -- >> explain. >> which is, rather than going up there and presenting the bill like the tablets -- >> the way you were asked to do. >> yeah. >> you were asked to do it, in fairness to clinton. >> in fairness to him. that became a huge, big, fat target. it was a big bull's-eye. everyone had something to shoot at. everyone had something not to like. >> but is this elusiveness on his part, has that turned out to go far? >> it's easy to sit here and monday morning quarterback. >> monday morning is christmas. >> monday morning after each -- >> is he late in deciding what he needs to get done? >> i think he could have weighed in a little more heavily a little earlier. but you know what? i think we have to still see where this comes out. he's going to get a health care bill. and it probably won't have a public option. he will get a health care bill because the democrats know if they do not successfully pass
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something, if they're not capable of governing, they're going to lose a lot more seats than if they pass health care. >> you might be right. bill clinton believes that. i hope you're right in a sense. but here's a question for you, you work for the republican administration. which was very successful in the beginning of getting what it wants. you guys got that tax cut. i didn't like it but you got it. you got the war the way you wanted it. you were tough and got this stuff done. does the president have to strike early? does he have to use his political capital like reagan did, like you guys did? move quick, win quick, lbj did it. >> yes, but you can't ignore what's happening in the real world. and when george w. bush became president, we were in the midst of a recession that people didn't really understand was there until he took office. so he had to deal with that reality, and he did. >> you're saying barack obama hasn't caught up with the new change that is the bad unemployment numbers that are breaking people's hearts right now? >> i think he's still seeing the world as he wants it to be rather than the world that is and he's not leading to the world that we have. i can understand having a goal, but i actually think he should be focusing more on the significant foundational needs
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we have in this country rather than all of the wants -- >> my question to you, both of you, the great political question you ask, are we going in the right direction? you and i know everything, we all know the same stuff, that knowledge is shared. are we going in the right direction? these people know what they're doing. a question i like even better is, does this candidate, this politician, this president care about people like me? does he care about people like me? i think the president, when he was a candidate, was like most people. they didn't like the war in iraq, they thought it was a bad decision, they wanted change. they wanted an african-american guy. they wanted to show we were a bigger country. they wanted all those good things. shared page, same page. now i think most people are primarily worried about that unemployment rate. whether it's a lagging indicator, leading indicator, they're scared to hell they're going to be on that list. and he's, on the other hand, focusing on health care. i think they're on different pages. >> he has two responsibilities. one, to address the concerns of the american people and they are concerned about the economy, and there are still big questions
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and there are still dark clouds on the horizon with regard to -- >> this thing could go down again. >> and he's got to pay attention and demonstrate to the american people -- >> does he do that? does he show sympathy for the working stiff? do you believe he's shown sympathy for the working -- the average person out there that's either lost their job or working at halftime or has given up? has he shown sympathy for that guy? >> i think he's tried to -- >> how has he -- have you seen him meet with these people? >> i think -- i was going to to say, i don't think that is his strong suit. >> does he have empathy? >> i think he has empathy, but i don't think he has the ability to show it. >> over the last two months it has been very forward leaning rhetoric about the economy. we've turned the corner of -- >> but i don't think that's right. i don't think people think that's true. >> and i think that's -- and i think that that was a -- >> is he on the same page as the average -- >> -- the first in the '92 campaign. >> i don't want you to throw the sword on your chest and give up politically here, but is this president on the same page as the average working stiff right now in this country? >> you know, i mean, is he
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concerned, is he up night worrying about it? yes. does he show it? not as much as he could. i always thought that was one of the things that -- one of obama's challenges, was going to be when things went badly, was he wouldn't be able to connect with the american people in a way that would sustain him. that was bill clinton's greatest strength. >> he has two challenges as president. first is to relate to the concerns that the average american person has, the economy. but he also has to worry about these other dark clouds on the horizon and he's got to talk to the american people about it. iran, north korea, the challenges in afghanistan. >> let me tell you -- here's what i think about personnel. i think there are some really smart people in the white house, rahm emanuel is as smart as a whip. and i love greg craig. i think he's fabulous. he's fabulous. he's one of the reasons i like obama, he and ted sorensen, the best of the kennedy people. let me tell you, it seems to me there's a couple people missing. they lost jim johnson because of fannie mae. they lost tom daschle because of tax problems. they lost heavyweights on capitol hill, big shots, really good guys.
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i'm telling you, it's hurt them. they need a george mitchell, bring him back from the middle east. bring back mitchell from the middle east where he's not going to get anything done and make him top dog. we'll see if that happens. i just said it. they need a guy like him to connect words with actions and get things done. nobody was a better majority leader on the hill, ever, than george mitchell. well, lbj was. anyway, dee dee myers, thank you. andy card. up next, levi johnston, where do they get these sleaze balls? 15 minutes of fame. this guy wants more. look at him. he's doing ads about getting sarah palin's daughter pregnant when they weren't married. this guy is the lowest form -- you have to be the deposits of a whale on the bottom of the ocean to get lower than these people. [ female announcer ] if you're using the leading sensitivity toothpaste, you may be missing some of the protection you need. only crest pro-health protects against sensitivity and all these areas in a single, all-in-one toothpaste. ♪ crest pro-health.
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i love that laugh. back to "hardball." time for "the sideshow." first, meet, if you have to, the outspoken spokesperson for the birthers who argue that the president is an illegal alien. tates is a dentist, lawyer, real estate agent, born in the soviet union, former soviet union. who im greated israel. immigrated to israel. later moved here with her new american husband. here's a peek at her world courtesy of "the washington post." tates' rhetoric is laced with the suspicion that obama may be an agent for a foreign power. a modern manchurian candidate. this is why she wants not only his vital records, but his academic records as well. tates also has a different definition of natural born citizen than the rest of us do. or the constitution does. she argues that to be a president, a person not only must be born here, but must also be the child of parents who were both u.s. citizens at the time of the birth. she's also, i should add, said that the president, quote, represents radical communism and radical islam and is, to boot, a
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member of the mafia. a federal judge doesn't agree with her. he compared her legal case against obama to "alice in wonderland." i think he was being kind. next up, a study in stretching out your 15 minutes of fame. levi johnston, can we get lower than this guy? sarah palin's almost-son-in-law is out with a new ad for pistachios. of course, he doesn't shy away from his claims of fame. unplanned pregnancy of his old girlfriend, bristol palin, daughter of sarah. here is the unbelievably sleazy ad this guy is using. >> levi! levi! >> now levi johnston does it with protection. wonderful pistachios. >> he does it with protection. so he's making money on getting sarah palin's daughter pregnant. i don't know who's sleazier here, the advertiser, i would put that one up for a bet or the nut company or the guy, himself?
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finally, it's the end of the word for dancing tom delay. "entertainment weekly" reports tonight that the former house majority leader has dropped out of "dancing with the stars." i don't really see any talent there, actually. tonight, due to stress fractures in both of his feet, i don't think he could do that with fractures. you can tell, there, at least he had some fun while he was at it, and good for him, i guess. good for him being out of there, too. now for "the big number" tonight. during the campaign, i talked a lot about how the election of barack obama would change the way the world looked at this country. well, here's some proof. last year under george w. bush, the united states came out seventh in the gfk poll of the most admired countries in the world. this year under president obama, where does america stand? where we'd like to be. number one. the survey's head says the only explanation that obama won the election. and that he's never seen such a dramatic change in one year by any country in the standings. take that, america number one in the world most admired country on this planet. by the way, people have been coming here for 200 years, they still come, and everybody who
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comes here does better than where they come from. that's why they love us, besides liking obama. all i have to say is i love this poll. up next, david letterman apologized to his wife and staff for having sex with some coworkers and skewered himself in the process. can dave legitimately do what he's always done now? lampoon public figures caught in these embarrassing situations. well, i can bet on that one, he's going to keep doing it. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. using nanotechnology to convert plants into components. the first-ever hs hybrid. only from lexus. the sparkly flakes. the honey-baked bunches! the magic's in the mix. my favorite part? eating it. honey bunches of oats. taste the joy we put in every spoonful. honey bunches of oats. we call the bunches in honey bunches of oats the prize in the box. well, now there's a prize inside the prize. pecans! pecans! baked into crunchy oat bunches.
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i'm christina brown. here's what's happening. the senate approved a $600 billion for the pentagon. president obama is assuring iraq
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america remains commit ed ted t iraqi progress and security and he spoke to president talibani by phone and attended security measures at the white house on tuesday. and brushing off warnings iranians could face new sanctions unless they come clean about the nuclear program. eric holder said the new york plot targeting new york city moved beyond the aspirational phase and could have resulted in new american cash amounts. now back to "hardball." it's fall here in new york city and i spent the whole weekend raking my hate mail. i'll be honest with you, folks, right now i would give anything to be hiking on the appalachian
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trail. i got into the car this morning and navigation lady wasn't speaking to me. things are still pretty bad. there's a possibility that i'll be the first talk show host impeached. so -- >> wow. welcome back to "hardball." that was david letterman last night. he kicked off his monologue as you just saw with rapid-fire jokes about the extortion plot. it's caused him to make an on-air admission of relationships with female staffers on his program. but later on, he talked about the pain he's caused his wife. no joking here. >> my wife, regina, she has been horribly hurt by my behavior. and when something happens like that, if you hurt a person, then it's your responsibility, you try to fix it. let me tell you, folks, i got my work cut out for me. >> joining me now is "the washington post's" paul ferrari and "the new york times," the great bill carter. i must say the great bill carter, let's start with you, sir, out of seniority and greatness and grandeur, sir.
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this seems a great study in what late-night is all about. i'm like you. i grew up with carson. i was in love with him. when i had no social life. he was my social life, my company. i would make peanut butter and crackers or cheese and crackers and a coke. i went in there for an hour and a half and he was my best friend on this planet. isn't this thing about letterman only adding to that intimate connection between him, with all his faults, and his audience? >> i think you're right. i think it's an extraordinary thing that he's doing. and really, letterman has done this more than anyone else. he's played his life out on camera. you know, from his illnesses to his baby being born to the crazy woman who broke into his house. all these crazy events in his life, extreme events in his life have taken place on camera, because he discusses them with the audience. and in very honest and candid terms. so, yes, there's a real connection built up there. >> is there a clown-like aspect to him? you'll see him there wearing the white socks. it's almost like he's got the big, floppy shoes. he portrays himself in the great, classic sense of a comic as a clown. he's funny, he's a kid.
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let me go to paul here. he comes off as a kid, a big, overgrown kid, he's almost my age and yet you think of him as 18. >> that's what's lovable about him. he's this self-deprecating guy that the audience can relate to. he never seems to be like a giant intellectual. he's the kind of guy that puts himself down as much as he's going to put anyone else down. you can't help but love him. >> what are the danger marks here for him, professionally? i see andrea peiser, columnist at "the new york post," is calling for him to be fired. that seems a little extreme. what do you think is the story? >> obviously, unless something else comes forward, it would be sort of surprising if cbs did anything. the guy is doing really well right now in the ratings. they're very happy with his performance. i think it would have been to be kind of an extraordinary series of events for that to take place. but we don't know how this is going to play out in the long term because i don't know what the audience reaction will be long term. there's a question about women, maybe women will be more uncomfortable with him. i think we'll see how it plays out. in the short term it looks like
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it's just drawn more attention to him and made him even more -- if not popular, certainly unmissable. >> well, could he be -- i don't know him. i've done this show -- guys, i did it like years ago after 9/11, he's one of these mystery men, you show up, you never see him, he's like the masked man, you don't see him until he shows up in that chair next to you and you never see him afterwards. when you do my friend, jay leno's show, you're hanging out with him before the show, after the show. he's always been elusive, but isn't he like the professional cad? like he isn't the good guy. >> right now he's the professional cad in a way he doesn't want to be. >> are you sure? did you see his numbers last night? >> these allegations keep coming out, we don't know how far it goes. we don't know what shoe is going to drop. >> the age of this intern is an issue, i would think. >> that is a problem. potentially, there are other women coming forward. there may be allegations of sexual harassment. we don't know. so far, nothing. and i think, frankly, he probably ends up riding it out.
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he controls the microphone. >> he also owns worldwide pants, his production company. he's not an employee like all of us are. he's not a part of a big corporation with all kinds of hr rules. here he is, by the way, and i'm not sure what the governing laws of new york labor law is. that might come into play here. is anything coming up on that, new york labor law affecting him? is he vulnerable to any charge here? >> nothing has been raised in that way. i think you have to look hard at this and say, who are the women involved? nobody has come forward in his past, ever, to make a complaint against him? there's never been a sexual harassment complaint against him. >> except that one young woman who said, i would have married him and i love him and he's funny and all these joyous comments. let's take a look at his humor last night. he managed to sustain last night. let's listen. >> let's look at the news. first of all, bill clinton said -- no. good news for south carolina governor mark sanford because he -- how about that eliot spitzer,
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will you take a look -- >> he's making himself the joke. >> that's the best way to do it. i mean, the audience is there, they're tense. they don't know what he's going to do and how he's going to address it. he comes out and does killer humor last night. one joke after another, bang, bang, bang. and they were explosively funny and all on him. he pulled all the jokes on to himself and i think that's the best approach. >> okay. let me ask you guys about the dirty little secret of late-night television. it's a dirty little secret. late-night television is a different than primetime. you're allowed to be a little risque, your language can be across the line. johnny carson was married how many times? how many times did he and ed mcmahon, who i love, joked about him being bar rag breath and out drinking and having another disastrous experience with a woman. that was all part of the intimacy buildup. >> certainly. you can get away with a lot more than even johnny carson used to get away with. there's many more challenges, the audience is smaller, the standards are lower. he can do that kind of humor.
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the question with letterman, though, is can he get away with making fun of these people in these sex scandals web when he, himself, is in one, himself. >> what do you make of that, bill? i think he still thinks everyone is fair game? >> this is his job. >> because they're funny in themselves these people. how can you not see in the humor when he says he's hiking on the appalachian trail and he's in buen buenos aires with some latina girlfriend of his? it's too good a story. >> he's not going to be shying away with that. you can see a little spin put on it as he goes forward. every time he does it. the way carson would talk about some event that has to do with divorce and he would talk about his own divorce. you'll see letterman use in his own interests. >> i remember the business adviser that stole all of johnny's money, he made jokes out of that for years. that guy who made fun of -- >> bombastic bushkin. >> god, we were fans, weren't we, bill? thank you, sir. nobody knows late night like this guy, bill carter. maybe another book coming out. up next, we have a lot of -- thank you, paul ferrari.
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president obama, after nine months in office, seen a lot of him, but a growing question, can he put those beautiful words into action? is it time now? is he on the on-deck circle? is it time to start swinging and hitting that ball? next in "the politics fix" here on "hardball" with some baseball metaphors. i usually avoid. carol!
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'. time for politics with two pros. a beautiful wrirt and analyst. pat buchanan an actual former practicing politician, always a plus. let's do something constructive, find out if there's a barack obama missing piece. i think there is. he's a great speaker, has philosophy, great personal appeal. a new poll out tonight shows he's up at 56%. first big increase in his
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polling. polling. it's an ap poll, a solid poll, he's up in september. pat, you first. you worked as a communications director. i don't think it's just communications. i think he has to translate words, talking into walking, doing something. ronald reagan was able to say, i'm for less government, so he cut taxes 25%. he said, i'm going to beat the communists a he said i will use s dirks and strategic weaponry and they can't beat us. they will say uncle. every cab driver will understand that. does he have that ability. >> no, he doesn't. he's unfocused. lbj, the great society, rammed it through. nixon was laser focused on foreign policy, get hen rin here, that's who we will deal with. >> does he have somebody out there you can imagine on the center left side he can bring in and play the role. jimmy bake athletics moderate conservative play for you guys and get it done? >> i think maybe he can do what nixon did with john connolly. >> >> is it mike berman?
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george mitchell. >> i don't think it is george mitchell. i think he's too old right now. connolly came in in his prime a tough texas government. >> they need it. >> i heard you mention george mitchell. >> somebody who can translate on the hill with the other grown-ups f. they lost tom dash le. because of his taxes. he should have paid it on that car. >> he has a lot of people around him. there isn't really one single person. i think -- i think in domestic -- in economic -- >> you know what rybak said, the american basketball hall of fame, he said i learned one thing through 50 years of coaching, somebody has to be in charge. >> president obama is the ceo. he doesn't really have -- ceoo. rahm emanuel is chief of staff.
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rahm seems to be focused primarily on legislative strategy for the most part. >> is he a man of the hill or man of the executive? >> more man of the hill which is one reason why i think their strategy in health care was to turn it over to the hill and that, perhaps, the mistaken notion they can manage it that way. >> this is when you let the kids at school do what they want to do. >> he's got a bigger problem than that. >> you always turn your head when you don't want to answer the question. do you believe he turned over too much power to the hill? >> i think there's way he's going to get the bill but not get a bill he should have gotten. >> i don't know that he really cares. here's a congress of the united states, you guys put together this bill, get all your people in there, get it together, get it down to me and i'll sign it. >> does he have a motive? does he have a clear-cut policy motive like reagan did? >> no. >> i think he has a messiah complex. he's succeeded by being president of the united states.
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his presence there, who he is, michelle is, has elevated this country and he can get things done. >> you're saying he's just a prom king? >> i think there's an awful lot of that. walking across, big man on campus about him. >> here's the thing. when he has a lot of leadership ability, i think. when he -- when he's handed something, and i think he performed well in dealing with the economic near catastrophe that we had initially. i think he was calm. i think he was resolute. he was focused. everything i know from people in meetings with him say he's really good at it. health care's a different thing. he didn't start with the problem overwhelming him. so he had to pick an answer. >> okay. he knew if he won the caucus he could beat hillary. he knew being against the war in iraq would be the winning issue. he doesn't have that clear leadership. >> he doesn't have it on health care. >> he takes stances. >> we'll be right back with you guys. right back with pat and howard. . wheat thins. that's what's gonna happen here.
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we're back with howard fineman and pat buchanan. latest poll numbers showing in virginia the governor's race is going to the republican, mcdonald, over creigh deeds. in the jersey race it looks like the governor is coming back. that race is neck and neck. the governor's race, chris christie, the republican has peaked. he's coming down that red line. coming down. the other guy's catching him. corzine's catching him. what is this going to mean in terms of reading on obama at the
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end of the month? when we have a vote will it be seen as rejection of the president? >> new jersey is less important. you have a third party guy in there siphoning off votes. >> will those votes dissipate at the end? >> i don't know. corzine is enormously unpopular. virginia is a major case. it's well governed. unemployment is not as bad as nationally. democrat have a good candidate, republicans have a good candidate. >> if the republican wins what does it mean? the african-american won't be coming out. the youth vote won't be coming out. the white working class, middle class, t.e.a. party -- >> the leading indicator of next year? >> exactly. >> the other thing is -- >> older, whiter voters. >> older, whiter voters are going to come out. they didn't come out for mccain. >> older, whiter electorates. >> older white electorates. they didn't come out for mccain which is one reason obama won virginia. >> really? will they come out now? >> they're going to come out now because they don't like -- >> against obama, more mccain? >> virginia is part of the universe of washington, d.c.,
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now, part of the extended e ecochamber of washington. they're listening to what obama is doing in washington because it's across the river. if the republicans win virginia that shows we're back to where things were before obama won in terms of the map of the united states politically. >> looking at it, a question we're raising, if the administration continues the way it's going with the same level of success it's on right now, what will be the results in the races next year? lose 40 seats, lose the house? >> i would guess right now they're going to lose 25 to 30 seats. reagan lost -- >> big loss, not the end of the house? >> i don't agree with charlie cook that there's a wipeout yet. >> i agree with pat. virginia is more important than new jersey. see what the numbers are in virginia. if the republicans end up winning comfortably, if mcdonald winning comfortably, to me, that prestages a big republican year. >> i think they lose -- no doubt in my mind they could lose the house next year. if older, white people vote, it's not obama's america. >> what does that tell you about
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obama? >> it tells you he has to get his vote out and he probably won't in the mid-year. thank you howard fineman and pat buchanan. join us tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 eastern for more "hardball." time for "the ed show" with ed time for keith olbermann starts right now. which of these stories will you be talking about. people required to buy insurance but don't. if the higher penalties aren't granted, threatening to raise everybody's premiums. the speaker again cuts to the chase. >> we will bring a bill to the flirn house of representatives that has a public option in it. >> speeding that up in the senate slightly. mr. baucus now that says congressional budget office will be done pricing out his bill tomorrow, meaning any more delaying, he will have to do himself. sarah palin, campaign tool